Reception definitions and reading list

Definitions of Classical Reception

  • ‘the ways in which Greek and Roman material has been transmitted, translated, excerpted, interpreted, rewritten, re-imagined and represented.’ (Hardwick and Stray, A Companion to Classical Receptions, p.1)
  • ‘a complex dialogic exchange between two bodies of writing, rather than a one-way “transmission” of fixed and known entities.’ (Hopkins and Martindale, The Oxford History of Classical Receptions in English Literature, p.x)
    • Dialogic exchange ‘…placing classical and post-classical texts side by side is not just about tracing the influence of the ancient world on later cultures. The modern manifestation of myth can become an interpretative tool for probing the complexity of the original narrative.’ (Paula James (2011) p.2)
    • ‘Classical mythology only happens when the stories become active agents: when people use them.’ (Helen Morales (2007) p.115)
  • ‘shady and shifting dynamic between past and present’, most often read as ‘the self-conscious adaptation of the work of one artist, thinker, or writer by another artist, thinker, or writer.’ (Goldhill, Victorian Culture and Classical Antiquity, p.11)

Importance of audience:  ‘For me, Reception Studies is most productive and interesting when we move away from the great man communing in his study with the great work of the past, toward the cultural significance of the representation of the past for a here and now.’ (Simon Goldhill (2011) p.16)


Importance of reception itself: ‘The study of Classics is never a post-mortem, however “dead” anyone may call the ancient languages and the cultures which spoke them. So much of Western culture turns on centuries of exploration of the classical world that it lies somewhere at the roots of pretty well all we can say, see, or think.’ (Beard and Henderson (2000) p.125)

‘…modern eyes always find ways to open up new questions and sometimes to find new answers.’ (Beard (2014) p.x)



Selected Reception Bibliography

 Beard, M. & Henderson, J. Classics: A Very Short Introduction (2000)

Beard, M. Confronting the Classics (2014)

Bull, M. The Mirror of the Gods: Classical Mythology in Renaissance Art (2005)

Goldhill, S. Victorian Culture and Classical Antiquity: Art, Opera, Fiction, and the Proclamation of Modernity (2011)

Graziosi, B. & Greenwood, E. (eds) Homer in the Twentieth Century: between World Literature and the Western Canon (2007)

Hardwick, L. Translating Worlds, Translating Cultures (2000)

Hardwick, L. & Stray, C. (eds) A Companion to Classical Receptions (2008)

James, P.  Ovid’s Myth of Pygmalion on Screen (2011)

Martindale, C. Virgil and his Influence: Bimillennial Studies (1984)

Martindale, C. Redeeming the Text: Latin Poetry and the Hermeneutics of Reception (1993)

Martindale, C.A. & Thomas, R.F. (eds) Classics and the Uses of Reception (2006)

Miller, J.F. & Newlands, C.E. (eds) A Handbook to the Reception of Ovid (2014)

Moog-Grunewald, M. (ed) The Reception of Myth and Mythology (2010)

Morales, H. Classical Mythology: A Very Short Introduction (2007)

Nicolson, A. The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters (2014)

Rogers, B,M. & Stevens, B.E. (eds) Classical Traditions in Science Fiction (2015)

Walde, C. (ed) The Reception of Classical Literature (2012)

Wyke, M. Projecting the Past: Ancient Rome, Cinema and History (1997)